Technology and society have advanced to the point that humans now participate in many social interactions on the Internet. And we’re not just talking about Facebook and Twitter.
Almost anything you can do in real life you can also accomplish online; such as finding a job, chatting with friends, going to school, making a purchase, and even dating.
Online dating has become very popular for a variety of reasons. For instance, it allows you to skip the awkward first date talk by finding out about each other via your profiles. Then, if you seem to be a match, when you go on your first real date you will know each other’s interests and have more to talk about.
People who have just come out of a long relationship, as well as people who simply have trouble dating in real life, are turning to dating websites because they allow for an easy way to get into the game.
Other than stalking random Facebook pages, the most popular way of dating online is to set up a dating profile on any one of thousands of dating websites. All you will need is access to a computer and a quick, reliable internet connection [Read: 7 Steps to Surfing the Web Faster Than You Are Now].
Here are eight tips to help you maximize your presence on the web and find love in an online environment.
- Pick the right site(s). As mentioned before, there are literally thousands of dating websites to choose from. The most popular are general ones like Match.com and eHarmony.com; however, there are also numerous small niche sites, like Tastebuds.fm (matches based on taste in music), ChristianCafe.com (site for Christians), and DateMyPet.com (site for pet lovers).
You might think the site with the most users is best, but finding a site catered to a specific passion you have will help you weed out the unlikely candidates and find the perfect match sooner. The most efficient approach is to make a profile on both a general site and a niche site.
- Pick the right username. Your screen name is the very first impression people are going to have of you. Think carefully about what you want that impression to be. SexyLady69 might get you a fun string of first dates, but it won’t help you find love. You want your username to be as unique as possible, and also to reflect something about your personality.
Think about what kind of image you want to portray and what type of person you want to attract, and then word the username accordingly. Are you a FriendlyBookWorm, a SurferDude, or a HotSalsaDancer? Another approach is to combine your first name with a hobby you enjoy, like BowlingWill or ElizabethSails. This will add personality and can help attract people with similar interests.
- Be specific. You might be afraid to put certain information on your profile because you think it will repel users, but how else are you going to find someone who matches your likes and interests? Filling out a profile with generic information is going to sound bland and make it much more difficult to find the perfect date.
Profile questions are going to be general, so it’s even more important to be specific with your responses. Don’t answer “What are your interests” with “cooking, traveling, and walks on the beach”. These might be true statements, but they don’t show how you are set apart from the rest. Instead, go into detail about your favorite ways to travel or what a perfect walk on the beach might entail. The key is to stand out from the crowd of generic profiles by providing unique and detailed answers.
- Go the extra mile. Some dating websites might be free to try, but you won’t be able to do much more than set up a profile and look at other profiles. If you want to have the most success you are going to have to spend a little money to gain access to premium content, like sending and receiving messages and other added benefits. With the current state of the economy free sites are very tempting, but using a site that requires payment offers reliability and helps you weed out most unsavory characters.
Also, many sites offer assessments and compatibility tests beyond the basic profile questions. These might seem like a waste of time to some, but they can help you narrow down your matches and find love more quickly. These additional tests will also get rid of people only on the site for casual encounters and instead send you matches looking for a real relationship.
- Pick the perfect photos. Here perfect doesn’t mean the photo edited glamor shots. These altered and unrealistic types of pictures don’t show the real you. If you crop and Photoshop to make yourself look like a model then you are only prolonging the inevitable. You aren’t trying to prove anything with your pictures; you’re trying to show a realistic depiction of yourself. Other users need to be attracted to who you really are.
You should only put up recent photos of yourself. Somewhere between one and five months should be good, unless of course you’ve had a major body modification since then (like dying your hair or getting a nose ring). While you should have some head shots, you should also have at least one full body shot. That way people won’t think you are trying to hide anything. Finally, you should put up some photos that display your interests in the context. For example, if you said on your profile that you are the outdoors type, then put some pictures of you doing things outside.
- Avoid negativity. Many users on dating websites put comments like “I don’t like drama” or “I only date attractive women”. These things might be true, but they will come across as definite turnoffs. Stating such things in your profile will make you look cynical and even mean, and it might frighten off the loving relationships you are seeking. Focus on writing your profile with a purely positive mindset. Once you have written it, go back over to check for anything that could be conceived as negative or hurtful.
- Play it safe. Anyone who has ever heard of Craigslist knows that online dating can be very sketchy, and even dangerous. Stalkers and creeps abound on any dating website, so it is up to you to proceed with caution. Be careful about what kind of information you put on your public profile, and never put anything personal like your phone number or address.
When you’re going on a first date, make sure it is in a public setting. Also, let your friends know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone. It is best not to invite your date back to your place until you get to know him or her better. If you want to be super cautious you can require that the potential date get a quick online background check done before you meet in person.
- Establish ground rules. The sooner you can go on a real date the better. A prolonged period of messaging back and forth can make you think you have a more intimate connection with a person than you really do. But when you are going on that first date, you should set some limitations so things can move at a casual pace and so you have an easy way out if the date goes south.
Never go to a movie or a concert for a first date. You can’t talk to one another and it will be very hard to connect with the other person. A restaurant can also be a bad move because it means you will be trapped for a while if the date goes bad early on. It’s better to meet for coffee and then move to dinner if things are going well. Also, you should avoid drinking alcohol. You don’t want to have anything inhibiting your true personality, and keeping your wits about you is a good idea when meeting strangers.
Now that we have laid the groundwork for your online love life, the rest is up to you. Get online, set up a profile, and start looking for matches. Each of these eight tips provides useful information for finding a meaningful relationship online, but the most important idea that runs through all of them is to be yourself. Just be you (in your profile, your pictures, and your messages) and you will attract the kind of person who will love you for who you are.